Review: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Hollow City book cover
Image from Ebook-N

Title: Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #2)

Author: Ransom Riggs

Genre: Horror

WARNING: This book is second in a series, so this review will probably contain spoilers of the previous book. If you haven’t read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, I recommend not reading this review.

It’s 1940. Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London, where they hope to find a cure for their beloved Miss Peregrine. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. And before Jacob can deliver the peculiar children to safety, he must make an important decision about his love for Emma Bloom.

I didn’t really plan on finishing this book. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children didn’t impress me, and if I hadn’t won Hollow City in a giveaway, I wouldn’t have bothered.

It took me a long time to get through 100 pages. I read 33 and then put it down for a while because I was bored. Then I discovered it in my bag on the 9-hour drive to Washington, DC and figured I might as well read the dang 100 pages already.

Random side note: Why did Ransom Riggs have to name a major character a ridiculously hard to spell name like “Peregrine”?

I didn’t like Jacob in the first book. He just wasn’t a strong character. But I liked him much better this time around. Maybe because this book is less setup and more action, but he really came into his own. He wasn’t the leader, but he would actually do stuff. And I was really happy with the decision he made in the end.

I wish I could say more about the other characters, but I feel like there was so many of them that I didn’t really get to know any. Their peculiarities are cool and sometimes strangely useful, but that’s really all I know. That kind of disappointed me.

I had hoped to get a better handle on some stuff in this book. I did figure out a bit more about the details of how the world works, but I’m still not exactly sure about the wights and hollows and what exactly the whole evil plot is. It wasn’t really a major focus of this book, as the plot was more avoid-the-war-and-save-Miss-Peregrine than save-the-world. (There was a huge twist at the end, and I happily didn’t see it coming.)

I was pleasantly surprised that I ended up finishing this book. I’m still not sure I could explain what’s going on the whole time. And I’m pretty sure I’m not interested in the rest of the series. But I did manage to get through Hollow City, and that has to count for something.

The Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series:

  1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  2. Hollow City

Report Card

For more about my report card grading system, please see my About page.

HOLLOW CITY scored a 3.9 (A)

Blog Tours, Horror

Blog Tour + Review: Confessons of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of) by T.J.R. Fitchenell

Zombie fiction was never really my thing – but Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of) won me over. Which is why I’m thrilled to be part of its blog tour!

The absolute best thing about this book is it has something for everyone. Zombie fan? There’s lots of zombies! Not really a zombie fan (like me)? Bold, snarky Cassie is worth the read.

So what are you waiting for? Keep reading! (Then go buy this book!)

About the Book

Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of) book cover
Image from F.J.R. Titchnell; used by permission

Title: Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of)

Author: F.J.R. Titchenell

Genre: Horror

Releases: May 6, 2014

The world is Cassie Fremont’s playground. Her face is on the cover of every newspaper, she has no homework, no curfew, and no credit limit, and she spends her days traveling the country with her friends, including a boy who would flirt with death just to turn her head.

Life is just about perfect—except that those newspaper headlines are about her bludgeoning her crush to death with a paintball gun, she has to fight ravenous walking corpses every time she steps outside, and one of her friends is still missing, trapped somewhere in the distant wreckage of Manhattan.

Still, Cassie’s an optimist. More prone to hysterical laughter than hysterical tears, she’d rather fight a corpse than be one. She won’t leave a friend stranded when she can simply take a road trip to impossible new places to find her, even if getting there means admitting to that boy that she might just love him, too. Skillfully blending effective horror with unexpected humor, this diary-format novel is a fast-paced and heartwarming read.

Find it on Amazon

My Review

I’ve never really read an actual zombie book before (unless you count the disappointment of Boneshaker, which I don’t). But I am a huge fan of characters with strong, interesting voices, and even from the synopsis, I was pretty sure I’d like Cassie.

I was right. Cassie was smart and brave and a bit of a tomboy, with just enough snark to make her fabulous without going overboard. She did take a lot of the deaths a little lighter than I think was realistic, but overall, I really loved her.

Norman and Hector, Cassie’s friends, were both good. Norman was a goofball, but the kind of goofball friend I’d like to have. I liked Hector, but his homosexuality bothered me. It didn’t add anything to the character dynamics (and is so unimportant it doesn’t come up in the first half) so I wish he was either not homosexual or one of those super-fun gay best friends that I enjoy despite their sexuality.

This story was exactly what I expected from a zombie novel: race to get to somewhere somewhat safe, traveling with/making friends, and lots of zombie-bashing action. It got a little gory at times, but that’s to be expected. There was plenty of action, a semi-scenic road trip, struggles for food and supplies, and a cast of great characters. And it ended on a surprisingly happy note.

Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of) was a fabulous zombie book. The plot seemed pretty standard from what I know of zombie fiction, but Cassie’s amazing voice was exactly the boost it needed to make me love it. There’s no sequel room here, but I would definitely be interested in another book by F.J.R. Titchenell.

I received a free review copy of Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of) from the author. Her generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

About the Author

FJR Titchenell
Image from F.J.R. Titchnell; used by permission

F.J.R. Titchenell is an author of Young Adult Sci-Fi and Horror fiction. She is represented by Jennifer Mishler of Literary Counsel and currently lives in San Gabriel, California with her husband and fellow author, Matt Carter, and their pet king snake, Mica.

The “F” is for Fiona, and on the rare occasions when she can be pried away from her keyboard, her kindle, and the pages of her latest favorite book, Fi can usually be found over-analyzing the inner workings of various TV Sci-Fi universes or testing out some intriguing new recipe, usually chocolate-related.

Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) is F.J.R. Titchenell’s first novel. Her first novel coauthored with Matt Carter, Splinters, will be available fall of 2014.

Find her on:


F.J.R. Titchenell answers the question: Where do you get your ideas and how do you stay motivated to finish a book?

Ah, the eternal question, “Where do you get your ideas?”

Short answer: Everywhere. That’s part of how I process every bit of information I encounter. Everything goes in a mental file for later use in stories. Everything.

More specific short answer: My husband.

It’s tough to admit sometimes, but it’s true. He’s my muse, my sounding board, and my brainstorm partner, and while inspiration can and does come from anywhere at any time, nothing else gets my gears turning as well and reliably as he does. When we’re working together, most of the big ideas are usually his, and I get to focus on my favorite parts, playing with our characters’ poor little psyches and getting their dialogue just right.

Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) was my idea (though I do owe my love of zombies to Matt in the first place). The concept for this one leaped into my head seemingly out of nowhere. In other cases, when I’ve been more pressed for a new idea, I’ve often flipped through my favorite stories that have inspired me somehow, mixed a few unlikely co-influences together, added a completely new setting, and – this is the most important part – found a way to ask myself, “Why hasn’t it been done this way yet?”

Often I get there by doing things like changing up gender roles or turning common lapses in characters’ logic on their heads. That’s how you avoid being a simple rehash.

Even in my solos, though, many of my best ideas start with Matt tossing out a passing notion that I have to dig into and build on and run with.

Perfect example, one of the touches to Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) that a lot of people get a kick out of, one of my favorite details too, is Norman spending most of the book dressed as a clown. That was Matt’s idea… sort of.

When I told Matt I was working on a YA zombie book, he made a joke about a character staying dressed as a clown all the time so if he became a zombie, he’d at least get to be a zombie clown.

I loved the idea and knew I had to use it for the male lead. I think Matt thought I was insane when I told him that. He’d meant it as a background gag, a wacky sidekick at most, not someone who would ever need to be taken seriously, but I fell so in love with Norman once I got him in costume, he was so perfect for Cassie to bounce off of, so right for the tone of the story, I knew I could never allow him to be upstaged by some straight-faced pretty boy.

Exploring why Norman wears the costume, beyond the joke explanation, was one of the things that got me deepest into his head, his friendship with Cassie, and it helped me develop the theme of keeping sanity through laughter that became much of the book’s core.

As to where I get my motivation to finish books, that’s all mine. Not that Matt isn’t amazingly encouraging and supportive, he is, and I can’t overstate how lucky I am for that, but while he’s the kind of writer whose constant rush of ideas sometimes exceeds his motivation to use them, I’m the opposite way.

One might as well ask where I find the motivation to breathe.

Motivation will never be my problem just like inspiration will never be his. He’ll work on a story and sometimes have trouble getting through without being distracted by other ideas. I’ll have a harder time getting an idea I like and getting started, but once I’m in a story, it’s like nothing else exists. It’s one of the many ways we balance each other.

I love working on something I’m already in love with. I love that feeling of needing to bring a story into being and make it as good as it can possibly be. Not all parts of the process are fun or easy, but there’s never a question in my mind about whether it’s worth pushing through any creative blocks, tricky edits, etc. to continue writing books. That’s how much I love it.

Fiction, Horror, Young Adult

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children book cover
Image from Ransom Riggs

Title: Miss Pergerine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Pergerine’s Peculiar Children #1)

Author: Ransom Riggs

Genre: Horror

A family tragedy sends sixteen-year-old Jacob to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine’s children were more than peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a remote island for good reason. And – impossible though it seems – they may still be alive.

This was not a book I planned on reading. I’d look at it, think, “This looks okay, maybe I’ll read that when I have time.” Then I’d look at the 102 books on my to-read pile, laugh, and forget about it. Then I entered a giveaway at Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing and instead of winning the book I wanted, I won this one’s sequel. So I figured I might as well read this.

Jacob was okay. He wasn’t really a strong character (either in fortitude or jump-off-the-page ability). I think he needed to learn to stand up for himself and express his opinions. I didn’t hate him, but I didn’t love him, either.

As for other characters – there’s really not much to mention. Besides Emma, who was angry and moody, nobody else played a huge part. Hopefully that won’t be the case in the next book, because I think I’ll really like some of the characters (screwball Millard especially) once I get to know them.

I liked the idea of an orphanage for paranormal kids. But there was a lot more to it than that, with loops and evil wights and Miss Peregrine herself, and I think I only understood two thirds of it. That’s why I wasn’t worried about whatever the monster-things-ending-the-world issue was – I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. I hope I can catch on a little better in the next book.

Other than not always knowing what people were talking about, I enjoyed the plot. It was a little slow to get started, but most of the setup turned out to be important. And the creepy old photographs were interesting and added to the eerie (and slightly weird) mood. Despite not always knowing what exactly was happening, it was an entertaining story.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children wasn’t bad. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. I’ll probably read Hollow City, but if I didn’t own it, I wouldn’t bother.

The Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series

  1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  2. Hollow City